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Cosby allegations highlight issue of reporting sexual assaults

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Rape is a terrible thing for anyone to endure. The physical and emotional side effects of this horrendous act are devastating, even downright unbearable. I know because I have a couple of friends who were raped and we’ve had several frank conversations about their painful experience.

I am always cognizant of the things I say and the perspectives I offer to my friends who have suffered this trauma. It’s important never to blame them, but it’s also important to help them heal and potentially prevent future attacks by having candid discussions about key things that, if applicable, could have been done differently.

One thing I always advise friends, including one dear friend who now has two daughters, is to stress that despite the shock of the experience, victims remember the importance of seeking medical attention and reporting this violent crime to law enforcement immediately.

It’s imperative to note that I do not blame any victim for his or her rape, nor should they ever blame themselves. But many who have endured sexual assault now acknowledge that there were things they could have done differently in the wake of the attack. It is important to imagine the unimaginable and prepare for the worst.

At press time, several women are publically alleging that beloved entertainer, producer and author Bill Cosby raped them decades ago. For his part, Cosby has remained silent.

We may never know if these allegations are true or false. If they are truthful, it will likely be difficult to establish, given the years that have passed.

This underscores why reporting sexual violence acts sooner rather than later is imperative.

Doing so increases the chances of apprehending the offender, it helps from an evidence-gathering perspective, and it also allows the victim a chance to begin their healing process. First, we must do a better job of letting women, and men for that matter, who have been raped, understand that timing is everything. In the instance of reporting rape, it can literally make the difference between justice and injustice.

Next, in the specific case of the allegations against Bill Cosby, while some fear he is guilty, others are skeptics who passionately defend his innocence.

The naysayers I’ve talked to represent various ethnicities, socio-economic statuses and ages. Here’s a quick synopsis of the opinions they shared with me:

It disrupts business – One person brought up the fact that prior to the accusations resurfacing, Netflix was slated to release “Bill Cosby 77,” a commemorative tribute to the comedian in recognition of his 77th birthday. The comedy show was scheduled to air Nov. 28.

Cosby is also affiliated with NBC on a pilot project where he would play the patriarch of a large family. No script has yet been written and NBC has not made an official statement on the project’s status.

“It’s obvious this is a way to discredit Bill Cosby and prevent him from not only making money, but it also prevents him from helping to enhance the Black community with quality content on TV,” said Darren Ward, a 57-year-old married grandfather.

It’s all about money – “I’m not sure if he raped them or not,” said Candice Franklin, a 22-year-old Indy native. “But I think it’s about the money. Why would the latest woman go to a lawyer before calling the police? It’s because she wants money. If he really did rape her, filing a police report would make her seem more credible. It’s all about that paper (money).”

It’s a distraction – Carnella Gillespie, 38, said she believed the Cosby hoopla is in attempt to distract the general public from a larger issue: the trial against Missouri police officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed Ferguson, Mo. teenager Michael Brown.

“America is waiting to see if that officer will be properly punished for killing an unarmed Black man, yet charges of a rape that supposedly happened 30 years ago gets the most news coverage. The only reason the charges against (Cosby) are being raised again is because certain people want to downplay what’s going on in Ferguson.”

(Note: At Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper press time, the jury had not released its verdict relative to Wilson.)

What are your thoughts on the rape accusations? Do you think the women are telling the truth or is Cosby being unfairly targeted? Please post your comments on our Facebook page or on Instagram @IndyRecorder.

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